Tag: nature

I wonder lonely as a nail,
proud upon a camping chair.
While passing sirens howl and wail
I shelter from cold eastern air
here upon this low green hill
beside a bunch of daffodils.

Not Wordsworth’s thousands, dancing free,
but their brassy garden counterparts
pretending to act naturally
and, like tributes bought from supermarts
then rammed into this parkland soil,
they fool no-one – wasted toil.

I resent the space they take
where in my lunch break I would sit –
spring tinsel for the strollers’ sake
but, for my part, they look shit
and crowd right out the native flowers
that sometimes lighten my dark hours.

But, in fact, I can’t complain –
this is man-managed space
where all’s arranged and that is plain
as the manicured beard upon my face.
Where are all the wild flowers gone?
Gardeners stole them everyone.

rs 1.4.14


I’m coy like the carp –
hide my colours in plain sight,
flaring like a flag.

Blackbird – White Night

Blackbird on a power-line,
singing a 240 volt song
to a one kilowatt dawn.


In a checkerboard field
a convocation of magpies
consider the entrails of the new year.

After Rain – to the tune of Alexandra Leaving – (for Jayne C & Leonard Cohen)

speaker iconClick on the bar below to listen to this piece read aloud

speaker iconClick on the bar below to listen Leonard Cohen’s song Alexandra Leaving

The ground is wet, the smell of petrol strong,
the weather’s been intemperate again –
just when we think that winter should be gone
there’s sun and snow and wind and freezing rain.

Mimosas are outlandishly in bloom –
the yellow sprays, like tansy gone deranged,
they look like giants who’ve strayed away from home
and haven’t learned the seasons have been changed.

Even magnolias already light their candles –
each pale pink flame it struggles with the light,
this is not the season that generally handles
such luxuries as gently as it might.

Some have been released, while others are imprisoned,
and more are torn to shreds without a fight.
Many are forced to disappear for ever,
or come back dead or scarred and never right.

Everywhere you go there is more pain and terror –
unfinished business poisons every road.
We live and die and look for buried treasure
and think the secret’s written in some code.

Look to the sky, you cannot see a border,
though you are lost or safe where you belong.
We search for sense amongst all this disorder
with lies and numbers, histories and song.

Blown Roses

I thought I saw a bindweed flower
amongst the rosemary,
a slightly pink convolvulus
between the blue-green spikes.

Puzzled at this odd relationship,
I peered more closely at the spot.
A mushroom? No, a single blushing petal
blown there by a sudden gust.

I looked back at the rosebush on the terrace –
more heart-shaped wreckage on the ground,
though other blooms remained in place, intact,
Summer must be leaving town.

Necessary Fictions – Rus in Urbe 2

Even the glueworks looks romantic
against the pastel paintbox sky, flamingo-blue,
the rococo vent-stack stands content-
edly exhaling smoky arabesques.

An emblematic swan parades between
the crowned heads of the water-lilies while,
further on, the peach and iron of the water’s gloss
is barely puckered by the breeze.

Along the path the scabbed-up bitumen gives way
to saffron-coloured gravel, wreathed in dusty green;
a hulk awaits reincarnation with its rotten planks –
an accidental masterpiece of texture, tincture, transformation.

The countryside is squeezed by power-lines,
tower-blocks and motorway until the town
inserts post-modern pastiche phoney arches,
brick-skinned on otherwise quite bland facades.

This pretty picture’s elements are disconcerting,
as intrusive as the stench of boiled bones,
but lover-like I squirrel it scenes like this
to get me through the colder months to come.

Wood for trees

I don’t know why
I find forests so intriguing,
more than open fields and plains
or even heaths, where as a child
I first found a playground in the wild.

Maybe it’s the promise of discovery
of things that cannot easily be seen –
secret places, covered ways,
fragrant with the scent of sap,
fresh leaves, humus, fungus and decay.

Somewhere, around another corner,
behind the screen of greenery,
a cabin or a cavern or a den,
some animal, that’s glimpsed for a while and then
is lost inside the labyrinth again.

These spirits of an older time,
whose skins are atlases of years,
whose dresses flatter for a while
and then are shed as out of date,
recycled with each season, not just dead.

Only when I stand next to the ocean
or view the backs of houses from a train
and stories I don’t know arise
and break like waves then the shore,
does this sense of strangeness feel the same.

The trees breathe softly, nod their heads and whisper,
holding up their fingers to the sun,
digging toe-holds tight into the earth
and, where they are together in a crowd,
make an emerald city next to none.


Swifts (for Sankaram Kumar*)

Seasonal migrants of our global economy,
they don’t need papers to come here to work,
dashing all over like underpaid waiters,
they screech as they whirl about and never stop.

Harvesting much of our surplus winged insects
with no time to relax, they eat on the wing,
ducking and diving so long the sun shines,
‘cos any bad weather will bring down the crop.

When the picking is over they queue up to fly
back over continents, mountains and seas
but, if they only go south for the winter,
the question arises as to where they belong.

In a world without frontiers, as it is for the birds,
the question is meaningless, pointless to ask –
life is a struggle, as it’s always been,
if they claim a homeland, they do it with song.

rs 8.6.07*

* [‘voluntarily’ repatriated this day]